HUNDREDS of people packed Highworth's Market Square for this year's Christmas lights switch-on.

Mayor Julia Bishop, local butcher and fundraiser extraordinaire Andy Sears, and BBC Wiltshire's Ben Prater did the honours and an enormous Christmas tree on the Podium was bathed in blue light.

Families enjoyed playing funfair games, and excited children queued up to meet Santa as he rode down the High Street in his sleigh and gave out sweets.

Voice Kids finalist Lilia Slattery sang festive hits and a song from the Greatest Showman, then the Highworth Silver Band and Warneford School Choir performed classic Christmas carols.

The event attracted visitors from around town and further afield.

Vanessa Strange from Blunsdon brought her three children and husband Steven along to be part of the fun.

She said: "Seeing all the lights and the crowds really got us in the Christmas spirit.

"We were there for the switch-on last year and it was good fun, so we came back. The kids loved seeing Santa."

Clive and Hazel Avenell visited from Walstone, near Uffington.

Hazel said: "We were invited guests of the mayor. This was the first time we'd been to the Highworth lights switch-on, it looked great, and it was wonderful to see so many people there.

"We've known the mayor for years, so she invited us there and we had a drinks reception after the lights came on, which was lovely."

The Highworth Emporium was one of several local businesses which extended its opening hours to welcome the surge of visitors.

Co-owner Richard Marsden said: "This was our third one and it's always a brilliant, big event that brings the community together.

"This is when Christmas really begins - after the lights are on, everyone's in full festive mode.

"It's like the May Day festival, a lovely get-together for the entire town that a lot of people support and enjoy."